Federal Budget 2021 and ImmigrantsJune 2, 2021
The 2021 Federal Budget proposed to provide over $800 million over five years for immigration. The majority of the budget ($430 million) goes toward improving IT services to support immigration application process and $123.8 million ongoing to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Approximately $111 million will be directed to temporary residents; and $15 million to permanent immigrants to extend the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot initiative.
Seventy five percent (75%) of the 2019 net GDP growth was attributed to temporary residents yet they face significant challenges to viable permanent pathways to permanent resident status. The government has made a good start putting approximately $111 million funding in the following areas but there is still a long way to go in ensuring equity for this group.
- $49.5 million over 3 years, starting in 2021‒2022, to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), to support community-based organizations in the provision of migrant worker-centric programs and services, such as on-arrival orientation services and assistance in emergency and at-risk situations, through the new Migrant Worker Support Program.
- $54.9 million over 3 years, starting in 2021‒2022, to ESDC and IRCC, to increase inspections of employers and ensure temporary foreign workers have appropriate working conditions and wages.
- $6.3 million over 3 years, starting in 2021‒2022, to IRCC, to support faster processing and improved service delivery of open work permits for vulnerable workers, which helps migrant workers in situations of abuse find a new job.
Newcomer and Established Immigrants (Permanent Residents)
Immigrants continue to be the main driver of Canada’s population growth, accounting for 1 in 4 workers and over twenty percent of Canada’s current population. Approximately only two percent ($15 million) was allocated to this group over two years starting in 2021‒2022. This money will go to IRCC to extend the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot initiative, which will continue to improve their employment outcomes and career advancement. So what is missing is taking a strategic approach to ensure that the existing challenges and structures that marginalize and push immigrants into poverty and home insecurity are addressed.
As reported by the Institute for Research on Public Policy “over the past 30 years, however, the low-income gap between immigrants and the Canadian-born has not closed. Instead, the relative low-income rate of recent immigrants increased from 1.4 times that of the Canadian-born in 1980 to 2.4 times that of the Canadian-born by 2000, and did not improve during the 2000s, even though the low-income rate among immigrants declined”. Racialized immigrants in Canada account for 54% of all immigrants in Canada and 71% of all immigrants living in poverty despite participating in the workforce. This cannot remain unaddressed.
In addition, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) in its report entitled SME Profile: Canadian Start-Ups — A perspective based upon the 2014 Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises, September 2018, states that “both immigrant and visible-minority owners were more likely to start firms than non-immigrant and non-visible-minority owners and start-up owners were better educated than non-start-up owners”, yet face significant more barriers to growth.
The government has emphasized supporting business yet the equity lens has not been applied to immigrant business owners to understand what is needed to support their continued contribution to Canadian society or the impact of COVID-19 on immigrant owned businesses. This is a major missed opportunity in the 2021 Federal Budget.